18-inch yellow perch?

“I have seen an 18-inch perch,” Mike Norris said.

As things I’ve heard driving the boys home from karate, it was a doozy. And grabbed my attention last week.

Mike let it sit there for a good dramatic pause, then explained.

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Mike, a long-time friend (I did a segment on the entire run of his last radio gig) and well-known seminar speaker (he and Ted Takasaki have filled up the Walleye Institute for more than a decade), is no slouch as a fishermen.

He’s no slouch as a dry wit either.

So I debated with myself whether he was yanking my chain or did he get lucky and happen to be at Pastrick Marina when a fisherman came in with a freak perch. Mike loves fishing out of Pastrick, the East Chicago, Ind. gateway to southern Lake Michigan.

Over the years, I’ve heard plenty of rumors of 17-inch perch from Lake Michigan, but never of an 18.

Then came the explanation.

On a business trip, Mike added a stop at the world’s largest Cabela’s in Hamburg, Pa. The tank has monster fish: 5-pound black crappie, 15-pound largemouth bass and the 18-inch yellow perch.

Some of the fish were so outsized, he thought maybe the glass played tricks. So he finally asked for an explanation from staff. They were just fish from local waters that really took off in the tank.

On his initial visit, he didn’t take any photos because there was nothing to put the fish in perspective. But the idea so intrigued him that he went back a couple days later and took the photo above.

He pointed out the best perspective is to look at the size of the bars on the perch and the hump.

All, I know is that on a visit to celebrate my dad’s 80th next month, I think a side trip to Hamburg well be on the agenda.

Just think of this as just a tease before perch season closes for July in Illinois. Argghh.

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